“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


friday was a conversation with the wind

with the sand, with the coldness of water up to my neck, with the nothingness and everythingness of sun on my skin.  i'd taken a pad of white paper and a pen with black ink and i'd written WIND WIND WIND  in capital letters across the lines, the white pages flapping flailing floundering, wings of paper birds against the blue sky.  the wind whistled across the top of an open coke bottle, it splittered sand hard against my skin, it skittered frisbees and towels and it laughed in my ears while flying by.  i'd written 2 girls laughter joy of movement screams,  written black water, cold water, black water, the water seeming so from even a short distance, especially so when in it, dangling no toes on the bottom, seeming so with both eyes closed.

if i could take one moment into my hands . . .


see how the earth is laying you a map,
she said,
and though she didn't  say,
i had a conversation.

the wind drew the lines friday.  it will wear away the old and needs-to-be-gone stuff,  even the everyday slow breezes which steal it all away slowly slowly until it is suddenly gone and you are surprised your heart is still beating after all that grief, after all those questions; a hard fast wind will make you look up and say goodbye in a hurry and with regrets and you will run for shelter and maybe make it, but maybe not.  you may get caught and find yourself clinging to the past, and you will be damned exhausted when the wind plays itself out, but it will and you will lay down in whatever is left of your life and you will embrace the stones beneath your back against your shoulder, leaving marks on your skin and soul that no wind can erase, marks you will cherish, reminding you.

the wind drew friday's lines with sand, and then they too were gone.  had it been a dream of sand standing still, the conversation would be one of instability, but this sand was no dream and it was leaving me, slapping me, saying goodbye to what was, and i laughed back in its face and i let it go with goodbyes and good riddances and a few sad adioses shouted to its back, and then again ducked into the water and washed the past away.  a baptism of self.

i dried in the sun of a coming summer.


"if i could take one moment into my hands" from
the promised land by bruce springsteen


the weekend starts now. play.

starting tonight: an early long weekend with as much play and nothingness as i can get into it.  summer is coming, a lake is calling, and yes, those were my toes so cold earlier this week, but today was 90 degrees and the water is cool and it's only 2 bucks for the swimming hole if you don't count the price of gas in a jeep with not great mileage.  this weekend i won't.

this weekend will be daytime driving with dwight yoakum on the cd player, but something smoother for later, and then late silence under the stars.  it will be whatever that book is i bought at the drugstore last weekend.  it will be topo chico y limes and maybe migas for breakfast or lunch, or even supper.  there is raspberry sorbet in the freezer and a plum in the fridge with my name on it.

it will be baseball games on tv, cats, more books and a movie or two.  it will be sleep and sunshine and a new sail for the sailboat if we time ebay just right, white with big blue stripes.

i have my fingers crossed.



when in doubt, just look around & write

a.m.:  i am shaky this morning, my hair needs washing, life moves forward, skye cat comes in and finds the perfect spot on the unmade bed, breakfast was the last of the tuna salad, a mockingbird laughs at me, the house is cold, april too cool, and summer will change my mind.  the keyboard calls me, the sunshine calls me, the shower calls me, work calls me, the pain in my right leg has my number memorized, i ignore the phone. the tick of the clock is loud against the day, loud against the refrigerator's hum.  the jingle belle cat rushes in, a white streak to the kitchen, eats, skedaddles back into daydreams.

it may be writer's block after all, so i just type down the day to remind my fingers.

afternoon:  sunshine everywhere but the house is still cool.  we buy burgers for lunch & bring them home and they accidentally have onions; i never eat raw onions but they taste so good i gobble them down, there are just a few, and never mind how full i am, i have a banana for dessert.  the smell reminds me of school lunches in brown paper bags and those nickel cartons of milk, and i wonder why we never worried that the sandwiches weren't refrigerated, that the bologna or tuna might go bad before lunchtime, but we never did and they never did and i figure it's probably because we didn't have facebook to open every morning, posts whimpering that the water will kill us, coca-colas will kill us, this food will kill us, that  food will kill us, and i decide that ignorance may be bliss after all.  skye cat is in and out, jingle belle is nowhere to be seen, the ever-wonderful michael turns the tv to the nfl station, sound down, and i kindle up the book about thomas jefferson we are reading.

late afternoon/early evening:  a stuck car horn loud here on this downtown street and no one knows what to do but the ever-wonderful, who is a phone call gone, but as he tells me check the fuses,  a man walks up and does just that.  us women had not a clue, and that's the truth, but if laughter would've worked, we had plenty of that.

p.m.:  not quite yet here.  lily cat sleeps on the chair and home is calling me.  my toes are chilly in flipflops and pink polish.  life moves foward and lily wakes.



byron and the lost dove egg

let me borrow your hands,  i told him, i have this egg, a dove's egg, i think, and i need your hands, they are black and you are male and well, i think that will be perfect and i need you to cradle this, so he stubbed out his cigarette, and let me push him into the shade and said almost nothing.  but he cradled the egg, looked at me like i was crazy, and let me take a few pictures, because that's what neighbors do.

byron and the lost dove egg.
april 22, 2012.



i'm not sure it is writer's block.  it just feels like writer's time off.  like photographer's time off.  like painter's time off.  poet's time off.  it feels like just opening the door and taking dictation from the day, taking it into my soul and heart and rubbing it on my skin, and letting it penetrate and ooze down and fester and cleanse all at the same time.  it feels like laying in the sun with not a dab of sunscreen, letting it all in, taking it, embracing it, closing my eyes and sleeping with it, practicing unsafe art.  no protection from what comes or what doesn't.

yesterday evening the fall of a bird's egg from an unseen nest,
landing unbroken on the staircase.
a pearl dropped from the heavens.
the pear tree full of baby pears but leaves gone all black.
this morning the loud song of cardinals sending happy into the sunshine,
the jingle belle cat nesting in the monkey grass, glowing white light of contentment.
my brother borrows money and i notice his hair has gone gray overnight
with the snap of time's fingers, and my heart cannot look away.  

the street outside is the downhill part and kids coast by on bicycles, no helmets.
just backward turned baseball caps in the breeze.  



the almost 3 a.m., can't sleep, feeling sorry for myself blues. without pictures.

at wide awake 2 in the morning
the language of this house is loud.
the ticking tocking always clocking unslept minutes
mocking me mocking ticking tocking,
the stillness sound asleepness of the cat's silence pressed
against my thigh is enough to wake the dead
but there is only me alive with thoughts like thunder 
and toes like ice
and every itch cheered through a megaphone,
and the crowd goes wild.
every ache is a church funeral choir singing me into the cold cold ground,
singing and smacking their hands together loud and louder
and stomping in godlike awful powerful rhythm,
because i expect a damn good send-off for all this suffering.


day 16 of NaPoWriMo, national poetry writing month.
a poem a day.


the poem on the corner

this morning
a superstitious mockingbird waged war
on an unlucky friday the 13th black cat kitten
unschooled in the power of words and calendars
                                         thinking it play 
batting at feathers with soft paws and sheathed claws
batting at air where once anger flew
batting zilch zero nada sa-wing  battah battah
but this bird had flown
           damage done
black cat kitten innocence scatted away

there are poems on every corner, this one early this morning waiting on me, just a glance from the corner of my eye, where, in fact, most of the poems hide, leaving it up to me to notice.  the poem this afternoon is the pattern of red stripes across the bottom of the tv screen, mute, the pattern of silence against the red notes of a cardinal hidden in the pecan tree, notes flung to the sky and answered by the breeze singing back through the catawba blossoms.

the tv crawl reads north korea something
and my shoulder begins to tighten,
the dryer falls quiet
the cat falls to sleep
we all fall down and this ain't no rabbit hole;
this is the truth squared.
i change channels
and it's north carolina
and world war II
and a red porch across the bottom of the screen.
patterns continue,
clouds cover the blue sky,
and all the birds all fall silent.

day 13 of NaPoWriMo, national poetry writing month.
a poem a day.


still here: stories

all stories are unfinished.
      punctuate anyway you want. 
                          period. EXCLAMATION mark!
                                         slam the door
                                         walk away
                                         the stories go with you
    anchors trailing behind you
                           balloons tethered to your heart.

                 sometimes you notice and you take out scissors                                                                                                                  and snip them free
as if.


day 9 of NaPoWriMo, national poetry writing month.
a poem a day.


ain't no way to get this right. without pictures.

sometimes i think to be a poet
i should remove that flower from up there at the top of this page
take away. erase it. photoshop. begone. scat.
adios little blue blossom of my heart
cause ain't no real nobody gonna take me seriously
with that little girl hope up there
like paintin' with pretty colors across a torn canvas
makes no sense. makes no art.  makes no nothing
but people rollin' they eyes at who do she think she is
all small magic and imperfections
and snickerin' behind their hands while shootin' each other
looks i know all too well.
i live in this town where art don't dwell
not for long anyway, and seldom,
and i know those looks of who do she think she foolin'
with those words and talkin' 'bout flowers on the ground
like that be poetry or even anything
and shit, they say, we don't even know this wrong side of the tracks
magic nonsense girl, and it mean she don't exist if we say so,
she just writin' for nothin'
that's the way you do it
and damn sure her art ain't nothin', we know art and this ain't it
them guys ain't dumb
and double damn sure she ain't no poet cause, excuse me, where be the rhymes?
maybe get a blister on your little finger
and they snicker again
and then i think i need more flowers at the top of the page
maybe get a blister on your thumb
cause they ain't gonna take me seriously unless i got a bluebonnet or 2
on the page
and i am caught in the middle of a place called what? and nowhere
always sayin' all the wrong stuff
i shoulda learned to play the guitar
too serious or too silly and no way i fit in
i shoulda learned to play them drums
and so the flower stays cause what the hell
and why not and screw it
and i will talk about the cardinals singing the morning awake if i want to.
that ain't workin'
that's the way you do it.


day 6 of NaPoWriMo, national poetry writing month.
a poem a day.

words in italics:
money for nothing: dire straits.  written by mark knopfler & sting


ode to my office

my office is filled with organized moments,
manila envelopes filled with papers neatly clipped together,
moments few, stuffed into grocery store bags with different moments left in disarray;
mail and magazines and notes i can't read,
photos and past due notices and bills.
the bags open onto the floor behind me,
spilling those moments onto the floor,
moments i step over and cannot put away;
a blue tag once attached to a gift tickles my left foot and reads soothe the soul,
no way to file that in a drawer out of sight out of mind,
a book of crossword puzzles open for months
to a page peeping out from behind sympathy cards -
it is an easy puzzle and 18 down is a cat's pleased sound.
on the chair next to my desk is the cat, and yes, she is making that sound.

the desk itself is a sea of gray beneath labels and pens and hair elastics,
beneath paper new and paper used, to be used again on the other side,
beneath envelopes of all sizes
and phone numbers
and nail files and scissors and rulers
and post it notes for which i pay extra, just to get the good colors.

there is a map of florida folded next to bottles of water,
a map i bought last january when i thought i was lost,
and which the buying of proved i wasn't,
there are upside down bottles of pepto bismol good to the last drop
and piles of my mother's mail
and from where i sit i can see 3 calendars
2012 on the wall,
2011 next to that florida map
and 2010 propped against portable files.
they hold moments of their own scrawled across their boxes of days,
they hold memories and they hold me hostage;
one day i will scrounge up the ransom.

i sit with my back to the door;
the feng shui of debi,
the only way this office works for a right handed person,
and i sit with all those moments behind me
waiting for a christian burial or a good housecleaning,
whichever comes first.
i keep in mind that map that proved i knew where i was all along.
the  organized moments will be the first to go;
the disarray feels like home.


day 5 of NaPoWriMo, national poetry writing month.
a poem a day.
sorry - i missed day 4.


crashing into the light

cracked maps of concrete under my feet
i see london i see france
wings stilled over the kitchen floors of asia
crashes in the bedroom carpets of the sahara,
touching me just so just so,
barely barely before beginning their barrel rolls into the unknown
wings flickering tickling
annoyingly out of reach
slipping down my arm
skittering across the runway of my thigh
away from my slaps and curses
flying away into the light.

i feel them long time after they fall
wobbling traces of wingtips stains on my skin
itches i can't scratch away
tiny tattoos of flight
i wish i may i wish i might
shadows left behind
passports to unnamed places
touching me just so just so,
barely barely there on my pinkest toe,
the one that goes into the water first.


day 3 of NaPoWriMo, national poetry writing month.
a poem a day.


unfinished. without pictures.

a 6 o'clock 6 dollar margarita

a taste in her soul she can't wash away

perfect fingernails on the bar poised to fly
the flutter of their wings hidden in her heart
just beginning.

perfect shoes on her feet ready to run
the revving of their engines a tingle 'neath her skin
123 go.

a 6:30 3 buck beer on the bar, sweating

another day another night


day 2 of NaPoWriMo, national poetry writing month.
a poem a day.


weapon of choice

a new month begin, a new death again,
another friend gone
again again again.

and that bastard hurry, he begin to push me.

hurry, he say, the rain is drying on the dogwood leaves
hurry, the puddles are fading and the sky is gray
hurry, the honeysuckle too early here will soon be gone
hurry the words to tell their story.

but slow down, she push back.

slow down, she whisper all soft and slow, the rain is drying on the dogwood leaves
slow down, the puddles are fading and the sky is the color of the mockingbird's song
slow down, the honeysuckle be all early morning blooms and sweetness
slow down the words to tell their story,
spread them across your toast with sunday breakfast,
sprinkle them with cinnamon,
then toss the crumbs to the day and the robins
and wait for their song on the new month breeze.


day 1 of NaPoWriMo, national poetry writing month.
a poem a day.